San Antonio’s Scripps National Spelling Bee winner reflects on road to success

Harini Logan was the first winner who was eliminated, then reinstated and won

SAN ANTONIO – Harini Logan found her passion for spelling watching the national finals as a second grader and last Friday, it became her turn on that same stage.

The 14-year-old San Antonio native was the first Scripps National Spelling Bee winner who was eliminated, then reinstated and ultimately won through a spell-off, which is a new element for the Scripps competition.

“I just fell in love with the way how like these big kids, cubic kids were on that stage spelling these words I’d never heard of from languages I had never heard of,” Logan said.

The title of Scripps National Spelling Bee Winner nearly slipped through her fingers when she was eliminated for giving the definition of a word that had two meanings.

“The judges had to go back and review it and in the vocabulary round I chose the wrong option, but the option could be construed as correct,” Logan said.

Then the judges reinstated her.

“I think my nerves had just all kind of evaporated and I was just like, focus, focus, focus,” Logan said.

Once back on stage, she won by spelling: “Moorhen.”

She beat her opponent in a first-of-its-kind spell-off. Her competition attempted 19 words, while she attempted 26.

“It was just so gratifying to see all my hard work and the dedication and that commitment, especially that time commitment that I’ve given towards the bee, to see it finally culminate and pay off,” Logan said.

To the young spellers watching her on that finalist stage, she advised them not to let the bad days keep them down.

“You’re just going to feel negative and you’re not going to be able to give your best even when you’re studying. So be proud of yourself for whatever you’ve achieved, but still use that as fuel and as motivation to give your best coming forward so you can achieve what you’d wanted to achieve,” Logan said.

Back home with the title, Logan said her love for the spelling bee came from reading and now that she’s ineligible for future spelling bees, she plans on authoring a book throughout high school.

With her $50,000 cash prize, she plans to save some for college and pay it forward to students wishing to advance their literacy skills.

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About the Author:

Camelia Juarez is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2022. Camelia comes from a station in Lubbock, Texas. Now, she is back in her hometown. She received her degree from Texas State University. In her free time, Camelia enjoys thrifting, roller-skating and spending time with family and friends.